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Maximum number of keystrokes (operations) to get to any item on a webpage?


From: Birkir R. Gunnarsson
Date: Dec 16, 2011 3:54PM

Hello gang

In my recent salvo of accessibility work, I have concentrated on
trying to make website developers use things like headings, landmarks
and other html structures (even AccessKeys in very specific
instances), to aide navigation for users of Assistive Technology (I
have been somewhat screen reader focussed, but I try to include advice
on other user groups to the best of my ability).
This has made me wonder if anyone has ever formulated accessibility in
terms of maximum number of operation a user should have to go through
to find an element on a page (link, text, graphic etc)?
Using html structures is so vital. On www.brandonsanderson.com, as a
totally random example, you need to use the arrow keys around 70 times
to get to the main content of any blog entry page, but it is aheading
level 1, so you can get there with one keystroke.
Similarly www.nhl.com/scores utilizes tables so you can look at scores
in every game simply by using the "t" key in most screen readers to
jump to game summary tables.
www.nhl.com/news has each news story title aheading level 2, and so on
(yes, I am married to a woman who spent 8 yers in canada *grin*).
I have advised the use of an AccessKey on two occasions where
frequently used links such as "log in" are nestled in a long list of
links far down the page, where it would take around 15 to 20 key
strokes to get there, even utilizing html structures on the page, at
least as a short term solution when people are not ready to do a major
page overhaul or review).
All of this being said, has accessibility ever been framed or
evaluated in terms of number of keystrokes needed to get to an element
on a page?
I generally find that one should need much over 10, maximum of 15, key
strokes to find any element on a page, if it is suitably organized
with headings, lists, tables etc (exceptions are, of course, very long
tables or other data structures, but it begs the question whether
those should not be split up).

Just curious if anyone has any thoughts on this approach.
It sounds like it might, at least, make an interesting teaching tool
for website accessibility classes, to have people design websites or
projects in such a way that users can access any part of it with x or
fewer key strokes.